By Tope Templer Olaiya, Assistant Lagos City Editor
IF Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola, spares some moments out of his busy schedule to read the letters and opinion pages of the dailies in the last few weeks, he would have been sufficiently embarrassed by the persistent grievous cries of residents of a certain section of the state.
The deafening trumpet being sounded by residents of Ejigbo, Ikotun, Ijegun, Idimu, Ipaja and Ayobo, is why the governor has decided to forsake millions of taxpayers in the Lagos West axis of the state known as Alimosho.
Governance in these areas is only felt by half-hearted attempts to remedy an apparent neglect with uncompleted and never-ending projects. The orchestrated infrastructural wonders of Fashola in Surulere, Ikeja, Victoria Island and elsewhere are lacking in the Isolo-Ejigbo-Ikotun axis where, for instance, the government has been building the about 10 kilometers road between Isheri Oshun and Jakande Estate for well over a decade.
Spokesman of the residents’ association, Chief Adisa Akiode, said residents of Ikotun, Ejigbo, Isheri-Oshun and Ijegun have shouted themselves hoarse over the state government’s inability to fix the road, which was started several years ago.
He said residents literally “pass through hell” to conduct their businesses in other parts of the state due to the poor condition of the road. He wondered what they had done to deserve such punishment even though they had always voted for the ruling party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
“For over six years now, we have not seen any government presence in form of construction of ordinary culverts in this area. The only respite we got recently was the rehabilitation of the ever-busy road, which leads to the NNPC depot from Jakande Gate, and that was after across many confrontations between the Federal Government and the contractor over non-release of funds,” Akiode said.
Another resident of the area, Uzodinma Nwaogbe, told The Guardian that in the build-up to the 2011 elections, Fashola pledged that the roads in the area would be taken seriously.
During the campaigns, the rains came down heavy and the people of Isheri-Oshun and its environs were told to be patient till after the rains as no road can endure rehabilitation during the period. Two years after, the waiting game still continues.
“There is no day vehicles do not break down on these roads, a situation that has necessitated private car owners to park their vehicles at home and go in public transport to take them to their destinations. Sometimes, they park their cars at Jakande Gate bus stop.
Many visitors plying this road complain of the effect of the thick dust, which worsen the people’s hardship and complicate their health problems but they are yet to see the worst of the road, which paralyzes movement during the rainy season. Residents were completely cut-off from the rest of the state within the period the flood lasted last year.”
The road is strategic and would be a huge relief to many Lagosians who ply it daily. The road, when completed, would help decongest traffic along Okota–Cele bus stop, as some would prefer to link Ago Palace Way, Mile 2 and Festac Town through Bucknor and Ijegun ends.
LAST week, the state government in a newspaper advertisement titled A New Lagos: Roads and Public Building, listed nine projects, none of which is from the densely populated Alimosho area. Projects flaunted in the new Lagos include Lekki-Ikoyi Cable Bridge, Ibeshe road in Ikorodu, Lagos-Badagry expressway and Marina Shoreline Reclamation in Badagry. Others are ongoing reconstruction of Tejuosho Market, Yaba; Langbasa Road, Eti-Osa; Ipakodo Jetty, Ikorodu; Isopakodowo Market, Oshodi; and Ago Palace Way, Okota.
Quoting from last week’s Backlash, a column in The Guardian on Sunday titled The Fashola Façade, “the connecting road between Orilowo-Ejigbo and Idimu is an ideal location for a Gulder Ultimate Search. The contractor in charge of the road uses shovels, head pans and diggers to work the side drainages.
“The Oke Afa-Ajao Estate link-bridge, intended to ease pressure on the Isolo-Ikotun Road, the sole traffic artery in that area, is taking forever to fix. In fact, much of the expansive Alimosho local government that gave the votes that put and returned Fashola to office is completely lost on the governor’s infrastructural radar.”
Work commenced on the Oke-Afa–Ajao Estate link bridge in 2011 and is already at an advanced stage, but it appears to have met a brick wall at the Ajao Estate end of the project, where contractors are at a loss about how to proceed with the demolition of structures on the Right-of-Way (RoW).
This stalemate may have informed the recent decision of the Christian community in Ejigbo Local Council Development Area (LCDA) to organize a prayer session for the completion of the project.
The Christian community under the platform of Christians Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ejigbo chapter, made prayer requests and also appealed to the governor to ensure the completion of the bridge despite protest by some residents of Ajao Estate to discontinue the project.
THE misery of residents and road users of Ayobo Ipaja road is as old as the fourth republic. They have also resorted to spiritual intervention after the avalanche of promises made by the former governor, Bola Tinubu and the incumbent failed to offer respite.
Fashola, who visited the area recently to flag off the polio immunization campaign, pleaded with residents of the area to be patient with the state governor, noting that issues, which are beyond what the construction firm, PLYCON Nigeria Limited, could handle had delayed its completion.
Some of the contending issues that had slowed down the project is the relocation of some Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) poles, gas and oil pipelines, which run across the area.
With the pain residents of Alimosho daily go through plying dilapidated major access roads, the state of the inner roads are better imagined than experienced in the Centre of Excellence.